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To what extent do we need evidence to support our beliefs?

Updated on October 16, 2012

Through the history mankind always had to prove something because there was always someone who didn’t believe in that. Like great philosopher, Bertrand Russell, said: "It is not what the man of science believes that distinguishes him, but how and why he believes it. His beliefs are tentative, not dogmatic; they are based on evidence, not on authority or intuition."[1]By his words people of science does not believe in something because of authority or intuition rather than some evidence which can proof their beliefs. This is also case with ordinary people. Every single man is always asking for some evidence that supports that certain action happened. Beliefs in something supported by evidence always brings another level of understanding and another level of questions which brings us to the question of its meaning and core, in the other hand beliefs without supporting evidences always bring more sophisticated debate because in most of the cases there people don’t need almost any evidence in that what they believe. This statement can be explained through different areas of knowledge like natural sciences and religion.

Natural sciences are one of the humankind’s greatest achievements. Term “scientifically proven” is as good as definitely true, but not always was like this. In history there are many scientists who were tortured or even killed by people even that scientist proved his theorem. The good example of scientist who was killed is scientist who claimed that earth is round. That scientist lived in those times where church was controlling everything and that claiming was against church because by church believes earth was flat. Because of that fact that scientist was tortured. That scientist was very stubborn and he didn’t want to reject his idea and after all torture he was killed. This action of this brave scientist just proves to us that we can’t be sure how will people react when something conflict their beliefs and ideologies. Different areas of natural sciences require different approaches and evidences. That is one of the reasons why people didn’t believed scientist for the round earth, because he couldn’t prove it right, but on the other hand many other scientists have proven their theories much easier like Nikola Tesla did with electric current or Isaac Newton did with apple and the law of gravity. This proves that not all theories are acceptable by wide spectrum of people, some people will accept that instantly and some wouldn’t because they don’t look through same eyes and everyone sees different. In near past one action of scientist in Europe scared many people which don’t have strong beliefs in scientists. That action was CERNs experiment with Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which supposed to smash lead ions and produce “mini Big Bang” which should help them in future experiments about energy. That experiment was very risky because it produced temperatures a million times hotter than at the centre of the sun but that don’t explain reaction of many people which came out on the streets and protested about that experiment. Those people do not trust scientist and with that they do not believe natural sciences without any reason. For many years before this experiment natural sciences gave them many good things which they use in everyday life and they probably couldn’t live without them but they still don’t accept a risky experiment which can help them to live easier and healthier life in future. This experiment gave enormous amount of information to scientist with which they succeeded to trap antimatter atom for the first time ever and that atom has amount of energy which cannot be measured. If scientists find out how that energy can be used in our everyday life that means no more fossil fuels, no more CO2 emissions and healthier life for everyone and that is something that is worth risking. This example explains that there are many people which don’t believe in natural science like they should to because natural science gave us the world like we have it today and through the history there are few things that natural science mistaken but many thing which scientist successfully introduced into our life and make it easier for us.

On the other hand most controversial thing about this topic is religion. Religion is something that is choice of each human. It doesn’t matter which of many religions man choose it is always the same belief: the existence of higher power or God without many evidences about that. Religious people do not require much evidence about anything that is connected with religion, they just believe in that without any exceptions. Many people which were born in religious family do not have choice whether to believe or not, they must follow wishes of their parents, at least until they are adults. That can often means that those children will be religious as their parents because those children will be thought about God and religion and that religion does not need any supportive evidence from early stages and they will accept that as definite. Although there are things like God which cannot be proven in religion there are thing that can like that body of baby contains more bones than adult human and things like that. This fact does not change fact that religious people need proof for their believes because they would believe in that whether or not it was proven. Religion is personal choice and everyone has its own interpretation of that. People shouldn’t be pressurized to choose certain religion and people should be free to decide for themselves what is the best for them. The other side of religious population is extreme religion which is present in some religions like Islam. Because of those people Islam is considered like terroristic religion which is hated all over the world. Those people which follow those extreme rules don’t need any evidence for existence, in some cases they do some terrible things like suicide bombers just because they do not see other thing than that extreme religion which in core isn’t the real religion, that is religion which is changed by some people for their interests. In this case those extreme religious people don’t see that real religion which is based on peace and equality, just that extreme religion which isn’t good for others and themselves.

Different areas of knowledge have different approach to evidence and proof for its study. From many different cases we can see that Natural Sciences and Religion have completely opposite evidences to support their believes and in some cases people don’t need the evidence to support them at all. Another thing we can tell is that nothing can be understood through the “same eyes” and because of that many people find difficult to understand each other. All of this tell us that in different areas of knowledge we have different extend to which we need evidences for support of our beliefs.

[1] "Evidence Quotes (page 1 of 1)." Share Book Recommendations With Your Friends, Join Book Clubs, Answer Trivia. Web. Oct. 2010. <http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show_tag?name=evidence>.

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    • tammybarnette profile image

      Tammy Barnette 4 years ago

      Very interesting hub. I believe people are made up of their own life experiences as well, I am working on a new hub about that subject as we speak. I very much enjoyed this hub and your distinct point of view:)